Bennett, J(ohn) G(odolphin) (1897–1974)
Mathematician, industrial research director, and author of
books on parapsychology and the paranormal. He was born in
London, England, on June 8, 1887, and was educated at Kings
College School, London; the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich;
the School of Military Engineering at Chatham; and the
School of Oriental Studies, London. He had an outstanding career
as a scientist, and in his mature years served as chair and
director of the Institute for the Comparative Study of History,
Philosophy, and the Sciences, (1946–59).
Bennett took a special interest in the work and teachings of
Georgei I. Gurdjieff and after Gurdjieff’s death he helped
launch the British section of the Subud movement at the headquarters
at Coombe Springs, Kingston-on-Thames, England.
He wrote a number of books including an autobiography, Witness
(1962). Although Bennett’s major interest was in the philosophy
and techniques of Gurdjieff, he also drew upon other
techniques of human transformation and self-awareness, the
Shivapuri Baba (a Nepalese saint), dervish dancing, and Sufism.
Bennett was particularly concerned with group dynamics
in the fields of communication and education.
In 1962–63, Bennett visited Shivapuri Baba (then 136 years
old) in the Himalayas, a trip described in his 1965 book, Long
Pilgrimage. Both Bennett and his wife, Elisabeth, then entered
the Catholic faith (see Bennett’s Spiritual Psychology [1964]), following
contact with the author Sayed Idries Shah, to whose
movement the institute donated its estate at Coombe Springs.
This was subsequently sold. In 1971 another estate was acquired
in Sherborne, Gloucestershire, and the International
Academy for Continuous Education was set up ‘‘to achieve, in
a short space of time, the effective transmission of a whole corpus
of practical techniques for self-development and selfliberation,
so that people could learn effectively to direct their
own inner work and to adapt to the rapid changes in the inner
and outer life of man.’’ This program included a synthesis of
such disciplines as mantra yoga, Gurdjieff movements, Sufi
teachings, prayers, and dervish dances. Eventually the Sufi
community Beshara took over the academy.
Foreseeing chaos, Bennett advocated the establishment of
self-sufficient communities of people initiated in the technique
of creative transformation whereby the individual transcends
almost totally the preoccupation with self to avoid complete
elimination. The first such community was established at Claymont,
West Virginia, near Washington, D.C.
Bennett died on December 13, 1974. His work is carried on
in the United States by the Claymont Society for Continuous
Education, Box 122, Charlestown, WV 25414. In Great Britain
his disciples may be contacted at Daglingworth Manor, Daglingworth,
Gloucester GL7 7AH, England.
Sources
Bennett, John. Creative Thinking. Sherbourne, U.K. Coombe
Springs Press, 1964.
———. John G. Bennett’s Talks on Beezlebub’s Tales. Compiled
by A. G. E. Blake. York Beach, Maine S. Weiser, 1988.
———. Enneagram Studies. York Beach, Maine Samuel
Weiser, 1983.
———. Gurdjieff Making a New World. New York Harper &
Row, 1973.
———. Is There ‘‘Life’’ on Earth Santa Fe, N. Mex. Bennett
Books, 1989.
———. Long Pilgrimage Shivapuri Baba. Clearlake, Calif.
Dawn Horse Press, 1983.
———. Spiritual Psychology. Lakemont, Ga. CSA Press,
1974.
———. Witness. New York Dharma Book Co., 1962.